Catalytic Steam Reforming of Biomass-Derived Oxygenates: Acetic Acid and Hydroxyacetaldehyde

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    Biomass can be pyrolytically converted in high yields (approx 70 wt. %) into vapors (or oils when condensed) composed mainly of oxygenated organic compounds. Using a fixed-bed microreactor interfaced with a molecular beam mass spectrometer (MBMS), we have been studying the catalytic steam reforming of model oxygen-containing compounds present in biomass pyrolysis vapors. This MBMS sampling systemis unique in its rapid, real-time, and universal detection of gaseous and condensible products. In this paper, we present results for steam reforming of acetic acid (HAc) and hydroxyacetaldehyde (HAA), two major products derived from the pyrolysis of carbohydrates in biomass. We propose mechanisms to couple the thermal decomposition and steam reforming reactions of these compounds. Both HAc andHAA undergo rapid thermal decomposition; complete steam reforming of these two model compounds can be achieved with commercial Ni-based catalysts. HAc forms coke on the catalyst surface, which is subsequently gasified by steam. The proposed mechanism for this coke formation involves an adsorbed acetate species that decarboxylates to form the coke precursor, (CH1-3)abs and also ketene, adehydration product of HAc, that decomposes to form (CH1,2)abs. The reforming of HAA by steam does not involve any detectable intermediate and proceeds smoothly to a complete breakdown to CO and H2 on the catalyst surface.
    Original languageAmerican English
    Pages (from-to)245-270
    Number of pages26
    JournalApplied Catalysis A: General
    Issue number2
    StatePublished - 1996

    NREL Publication Number

    • NREL/JA-433-20454


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